View Full Version : Astoundingly Friendly Community

11-03-2010, 01:34 AM
Hello there. I just wanted to say that I am so relieved to find this place on the internet. I am a long time amateur fantasy writer and have always wanted to get into mapping. I write tons of stories for my kids, all set in a fantasy world I'd created decades ago. Someday I plan on trying to seriously get published, but for now it is just a fun way for me to connect with my kids.

I have always wanted to map out the place, to at least get something beyond the rough sketches on graph paper crudely shaded with a dozen different colored pencils. I have a great affinity for maps and have even been known to buy a book because I liked the map insert. Some buy books based on the cover, I look one page deeper. Does that make me one page from shallow?

I have tried mapping before. It was a colossal failure! I am not artistic in general and have no skill or experience with Photoshop or any sort of drawing. I did not understand layers or channels or such. It was so complicated that I had no idea where to start. It was overwhelming.

That was until I found this place.

You guys are awesome! A huge "thank you" to Gidde and RobA and many others who have created tutorials for all of us novices out here. I loved Gidde's tut on creating a hand drawn map enough that I decided to give it a shot and see if it was really something I could do. I was amazed at how it turned out. It is far from perfect and there is plenty I would change about it if I were to do it over (and I undoubtedly will, someday), but I was so thrilled that I could actually pull off a halfway decent map that I am hooked. I didn't include a compass rose or scale, some of the labels were hard to read when I did the ink bleeding, and some of the effects could have been much clearer, but here is my first attempt at mapping. Be gentle, but any and all tips/criticism will be welcome.


Again, thanks to Gidde for the help, without which I would still be convinced that producing a decent map on the computer was far beyond my skills. I am currently working on RobA's "Artistic Regional Map" tut and continuing to learn a ton. It is a great help and learning tool! I just wanted to say thank you and tell you all "Hello"!

I will definitely see you all around!

11-03-2010, 02:04 AM
I think this looks great. For a first map it's really great. The one thing I would have to agree with you on is that some of the labels are hard to read due to the darkness behind them. You might add a light outer glow or outline on those labels which would make them pop.


11-03-2010, 02:16 AM
Hi Rail, welcome to the guild :) ... this is indeed a friendly community, don't think you'll find a friendlier one anywhere. Great that you've already started using the tutorials, and a great job as well. Feel free to post your next map in a WIP thread for help as you go along with the map, that gives great input while working :)

11-03-2010, 03:24 AM
Welcome from another new mapper! This really is an amazing place with lots of resources, examples and members to help you out. Tap my hat for producing your first map, have fun and enjoy your stay ;)

11-03-2010, 11:59 PM
That's a pretty awesome map. Welcome to the Guild...and have some rep!

Steel General
11-04-2010, 06:24 PM
Welcome Aboard!

11-04-2010, 07:16 PM
Rail --
Nice work - and you deserve some rep for a first post with map attached.

Ditto what Jaxilon said - the background of the labels is about all I have suggestions on. By including the labels that go for a swim in the layer that got a coastal glow, you're actually defeating the assumed purpose of making them stand out. Those would show up better with just ocean behind them. The label across the large lake has two difficulties - one, the lack of contrast, but second, its placement begs the question of whether you're labeling the body of water or the territory around it. I guess the territory, based on the font size match with the obvious national labels... but I had to think about it.

Really, any labels crossing from land to water, or light to dark, is tough to pull off. Read the treatise on label placement (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?12373-Positioning-names-on-maps) posted a few days ago (THANK you, Ravells!) ... it is a gold mine. While that master says Never Break Labels Into Multiple Lines, for my money, labeling your Eventine Empire in two lines, all on land, would be more legible than one line, extending out to sea.

Thinking "hand-drawn look", maybe the whole faint outer glow on text could be revisited. If I were doing such a map with pen on parchment, I'd probably outright omit inking of any trees under labels. For that matter I might skip whole trees, not slice them off at some number of pixels' distance. In any case, you'd want to not put an outer glow - at least not land-colored - around the parts of labels that span water. Is that what's going on with Melanrike?

Still, a very nice map!

11-05-2010, 02:07 AM
Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I can definitely see how using the glow would help the labels stand out. I was so focused on trying to fade all the background images to assist the labels that I didn't think of changing the labels themselves to make them pop out.

Yes, jb, you are absolutely right about the problems with the Melanrike label. I was trying to have it represent an empire that only controls the central lands in the vicinity of the lake, but the label is difficult to read and could just as easily be interpreted as the name of the lake itself. The "treatise on label placement" you pointed to is an excellent resource, though definitely not light reading. I have several examples of "signature" labels where I should have had "titles", and lots of labels crossing lines and shades. I think I was just so eager to finish that I put the least amount of thought into the label area. That, and I couldn't figure out how to curve text in GIMP, though it seemed like there should be a way. It was too advanced for me to figure out on my first map. :)

There is so much to learn, but keep posting it all out here for those of us eager for this kind of information. Thanks again for the tips!

11-05-2010, 08:57 AM
Welcome to the Guild!

11-11-2010, 12:14 PM
.....That, and I couldn't figure out how to curve text in GIMP, though it seemed like there should be a way. It was too advanced for me to figure out on my first map. :)!

Firstly, I gotta say say Welcome to the Guild, the Mappiest Place on the web!! :)

Secondly, have some rep for posting such a nice first map in your intro thread :D

Thirdly, I believe that the curved text uses Paths (something that I still haven't quite got the hang of yet) and then you have the text follow the Path. I am FAAAAAR from being an expert, but I expect one to show up soon and show me exactly how far off I am ;)

Have fun and post 'em if you got 'em. The earlier in the project the better. You get lots of help that way.

EDIT: had a closser look at the map, and I noticed that you had some bleeding of colors from the land and into the water. Specifically, in the far north west there looks to be some islands very close to the shore, but the water doesn't go between them. Also the inlet heading north towards the Scychian Range has the same problem. One way to avoid this is to create a Mask of either the land or water, and then use that to add (or subtract) the color for the water (or land). Nicely done none the less, and rep well deserved.